In this day and age, finding a partner can already be made possible with the use of technology via several applications. And even partnerships between space agencies have so much to gain from cutting-edge technology.
The ongoing dialogues between the European Union and the Philippines through the Copernicus Space Programme illustrate how technology can lay the foundation for a strong partnership.
The Copernicus Programme is the EU's Earth observation tool which draws on a large number of space and in situ (onsite or local) measurement systems. The programme is supported by a family of dedicated, EU-owned satellites – the Sentinels – designed to meet the needs of the Copernicus services and their users.
Among the many unique features of this programme is its ability to monitor the Earth to ensure that citizens are prepared and protected during natural or man-made disasters. Apart from providing high-resolution global spatial coverage, the Copernicus programme promotes free and open use of its information to all its users.
During the recently-held Second National Conference on the EU's space programme, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato de la Peña welcomed the Copernicus as a system which has given the Philippines "different opportunities to develop Earth observation applications for disaster risk reduction and management, environmental protection and climate change adaptation".
He said that the Philippines has been a heavy user of Sentinel data and that through the Sentinel Australasia Regional Access, data and user products from Copernicus satellites Sentinel – 1, Sentinel – 2 and Sentinel – 3 are now easily accessible to scientists and engineers at the Philippines' Department of Science and Technology.
Data captured by orbiting satellites can be analysed and processed in real-time to become weather forecasting, climatic environmental and geological monitoring information. This helps in determining rainfalls and temperature, identifying land degradation, resource extraction, spread of insect borne-diseases, crop yields or managing disasters.
This prospective new cooperation aims to address the key objectives of the Philippine government to develop and utilise Earth Observation satellite applications to enhance hazard management and disaster mitigation strategies and to further strengthen the country’s resilience to climate change.
Dr Philippe Brunet, Principal Advisor to the European Commission Directorate for Cooperation and Development, affirmed this prospective bilateral cooperation on space programme.
He said that the European Union is looking at the possibility of implementing a national capacity support programme on Copernicus towards the end of the current year as a first step in close cooperation with the Department of Science and Technology. Dr Brunet was former EU Director for Space Policy, Copernicus Programme and Defence.
Initial discussions between the EU and the Philippines have focused on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, forest monitoring, and marine pollution and marine litter.
In the long term, Dr Brunet said that the European Union is exploring the possibility to create a network of Copernicus partners in the ASEAN region aside from other parts of the world.
He said that the EU is hopeful that through the programme, it will be able to mainstream use of information in development assistance operations.
Since becoming operational six years ago, Copernicus has become an excellent example of European cooperation and is the world's leading provider of earth observation data and information, he said.
Copernicus supports evidence-based policy, create economic opportunities, encourage innovation and contribute to better disaster risk management and emergency response and tackle challenges of global nature.
The journey for both the EU and the PH as partners is gearing up amidst some challenges, but, definitely, through the Copernicus Programme, its bilateral relations will all the more be strengthened.